Welcome to Theme Park Insider! Join the community or log in
Theme Park Insider
Facebook Twitter Google Plus Email Newsletter

2012 Best Attraction Tournament: Incredible Hulk Coaster vs. Top Thrill Dragster

Written by
Published: February 22, 2012 at 10:38 AM
Today in Round Two of the 2012 Theme Park Insider Tournament, we're "launching" the Best Roller Coaster bracket with a high-speed match-up.

Incredible Hulk Coaster - at Universal's Islands of Adventure

Incredible Hulk Coaster

Top Thrill Dragster - at Cedar Point

Campaign for your favorite in the comments. Voting is open for 24 hours.


Tomorrow: We've got our first Disney vs. Universal contest of the second round, with Soarin' Over California vs. Terminator 2: 3D.

Readers' Opinions

From Dominick D on February 22, 2012 at 10:43 AM
A themed Hulk coaster vs a small race themed coaster. Hulk without a doubt.
From David Brown on February 22, 2012 at 10:53 AM
A one trick pony versus a well-themed, intense-but-smooth, multi-inversion and very original coaster? No contest! Hulk gets it.
From Mike Gallagher on February 22, 2012 at 11:01 AM
I realize the Florida contingent...and others...will make this a landslide victory for the Hulk. I only got two rides on Hulk, but was singularly unimpressed. I've been on much better launches and much better layouts. Honestly, the ride left no impression on me. I normally would prefer a coaster with an extended ride than a one-trick pony like TTD..launch, rise, drop, brake run. But it does that one trick so well I had to vote for it. I like the theming and sound effects, I love the trains, and I like scraping the bugs off my hands and glasses when leaving the station. Hey, we all have our little pleasures in life. :)
From James Koehl on February 22, 2012 at 11:04 AM
Dominick, I am not saying that Incredible Hulk Coaster is not a superior coaster in theming and inversions, but it has a max. height of 110 ft. and top speed of 67 mph. Top Thrill Dragster is 420 feet high and has a max speed of 120 mph. There is no way you can call it a "small" coaster and expect to be taken seriously.
From Mike Gallagher on February 22, 2012 at 11:05 AM
Dom..TTD is small? Where do you live, Brobdingnag?

Look it up.

From Mike Gallagher on February 22, 2012 at 11:06 AM
Double post.
From Mark Hollamon on February 22, 2012 at 11:11 AM
It's been said before and I paraphrase:

"The beginning of the Incredible Hulk is the best 6 seconds in theme park history."

From Dominick D on February 22, 2012 at 11:31 AM
I meant small in theme.
From Tim Odom on February 22, 2012 at 11:47 AM
One thing I will say about this matchup is that one could say that the best part of both of these rides is over within a couple seconds. But, that beginning on Hulk is like no other, pure perfection until the tunnel. The back half is decent, but still, Hulk should win here. It's just better.

And, TTD is actually one of the better themed coasters in Cedar Point. I was actually impressed with the amount of theming there (it was not my particular cup of tea, I am a Hulk fan from a long time back, but it is themed pretty heavily.)

From James Koehl on February 22, 2012 at 11:53 AM
Oh, small in theme. But I've ridden Hulk probably a dozen times and never knew there was a theme story until I looked it up on Wikipedia. I heard stuff being said over the speakers, but couldn't understand what was being said, and somehow I still had fun on Hulk. Top Thrill Dragster is at Cedar Point, which many in here (most of which have probably never been there) are quick to mention is not a theme park, but a steel amusement park (I guess that means we're not allowed to have as much fun there). True, there is no back story to TTD, but it is quite obvious that when you take your seat you are riding on a drag racer. It is shaped like a drag racer. There are the Christmas tree lights that let you know when you are about to be launched. There is the roar of the engine. And there is a 400+ foot tower straight ahead of you and the knowledge that not every launch makes it to the top, giving you the hope that you will be one of the lucky ones to experience a rollback, where you almost make it over the top, but not quite, then you roll backwards 400 feet straight down and back to the launch to try again. Have you ever done that on Hulk? Dominick, have you ever ridden on a stratacoaster?

I'm glad there are outstanding coasters like Hulk, dripping with theme and backstory. I'm also glad that there are thrill coasters like Top Thrill Dragster that are so intense that a backstory is not needed. If I can look around at the scenery, the coaster is not going fast enough.

From Duncan Henny on February 22, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Hulk SMASH!!!
From Lori Schueren on February 22, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Come on Top Thrill Dragster! I love this coaster (and Cedar Point in general) - it may only last about 20 seconds but it was 20 seconds I'll never forget, even after waiting in line for 2 hours to ride it! An incredible experience!
From Jack Curley on February 22, 2012 at 12:43 PM
I loved TTD (LOVED!) when I went to Cedar Point a few years ago. It was an incredible rush, and I had an incredible time. If I was rating this a year ago, I would've picked TTD. But I went on Hulk again (for the first time in almost a decade) last year, and it was far better that I had remembered. The rush, while not as intense as TTD's, was amazing, and lasted far longer than TTD's. I had to pick Hulk on this one.
From Adam Swaisland on February 22, 2012 at 1:02 PM
This is a really hard one for me Hulk is my most ridden coaster which is pretty impressive considering i'm in England but I do love TTD as well. I kind of want to vote for the underdog which is TTD because most probably won't have ridden it but my heart is sending me towards Hulk. The launch is amazing the ride is good until it goes under the bridge then it gets boring till the brake run but I still love the ride.
From 209.242.132.51 on February 22, 2012 at 1:11 PM
Two completely different kinds of coasters...you can't compare a woody to a steel just like you can't compare a wild mouse style to a hyper coaster.
From Blair Andrade on February 22, 2012 at 1:28 PM
I voted for the Incredible Hulk because it's so intense.
From Derek Potter on February 22, 2012 at 1:58 PM
I got to thinking about this a little after drawing a few comparisons. I already know how this is going to go, but I'll ask a serious question to those who've ridden both. I'm sure that most of the Florida homers haven't but I'll ask anyway. Time to take a shot at a sacred cow.

A lot of people talk of Hulk's launch as the best...one called it the best few seconds in the industry, but I'll ask again. Which launch is really better? 0-120 in 4 seconds up a 420 ft vertical top hat, or 0-40 up a 110 foot 45 degree incline into a dive loop. The Hulk's launch is good, but it just doesn't stack up to the sheer, intense power and speed of Dragster. Also, what is all this talk of the Hulk's great theme? There isn't really much theme to it at all...certainly no more (maybe even...gasp...less?) than the drag strip theme that Dragster has.

That said, the only real thing that Hulk has over Dragster is the fact that it's a full circuit coaster with plenty of B&M goodness. The best few seconds in the industry aren't found on Hulk though, they are found on Dragster. Regardless it's still a one trick pony, and the title of best coaster can't go to one of those. For that reason alone, Hulk wins.

From 70.56.233.162 on February 22, 2012 at 3:18 PM
I haven't ridden Hulk in a couple of years, but last time a rode, it was in terrible condition. Very rough, rust, the cue was dirty. When it opened it was great but now...
I went with Dragster.
From Melissa Donahue on February 22, 2012 at 3:31 PM
James -- could not have said it any better.
From Shannon Nelson on February 22, 2012 at 4:08 PM
I had to vote for the hulk, its my favorite coaster. And im just a big fan of universal orlando in general. Top thrill dragster looks great but i have ridden coasters like that at six flags over georgia, i think its called the cobra or something like that. not as good as ttd looks but about the same ride length. I know my vote is bias since i have never been to ceader point before, but it will be like that for a lot of people. Ones in orlando florida, ones in ohio, more people will have been to orlando, ecspecially international travelers. Not saying ttd isnt great, but this poll was over before it started.
From James Koehl on February 22, 2012 at 4:17 PM
Shannon, it's ok. We're used to it up here on the north coast. We don't really need a vote to know that we have some great parks here and some of the best rides on the planet. Come on up sometime! Cedar Point has one of the most beautiful locations for a major park anywhere in the world, out in the middle of Lake Erie, and the forests surrounding Kings Island make riding The Beast at night an experience never to be forgotten!
From 76.127.23.66 on February 22, 2012 at 4:38 PM
I ve been on both love both..its not even close..TTD if you havent gone 0 to 125 in 4 seconds you have no idea what it feels like.....
From James Rao on February 22, 2012 at 5:09 PM
I've got nothing. This vote should be a nail biter, not a slaughter. I am not saying TTD is a better ride, but the decision should be a tough one for folks to make. The Florida contingent needs to get out more. Most Cedar Fair parks are just stationary carnivals, but Cedar Point is a different breed and deserves a little love, too.
From Mike Gallagher on February 22, 2012 at 6:35 PM
Shannon, I'm not sure what ride you might be thinking of at SF Georgia. They have nothing remotely similar to Top Thrill, although DareDevil Dive, a Eurofighter, might look similar in pictures because of the shape of the lift hill/first drop.

From Melanie Howe on February 22, 2012 at 6:42 PM
I'll chime in as a response to James R's mention of the "Florida contingent". I'll admit that, if my participation in TI has taught me anything, it's that I "need to get out more". I am very fortunate to live somewhere that offers great options in the theme park category, but I've also learned that calling myself a "roller coaster junkie" isn't really fair. I need to experience a LOT more parks before I can really say that!!

I love the Hulk and have never had the chance to ride TTD, thought it sounds incredible, especially in the scenario that James K. mentions, of getting part way up the launch and then rolling back. If that happened every time, it would be a heck of a thrill. But, riding it on a normal trajectory, it seems to come back to the "one trick pony" argument. The initial rush may be better, though it's hard to imagine a bigger rush than being in the very back row -- my favorite -- of Hulk and feeling that first "out of your seat" tummy curl shooting out of the tunnel.... In this battle, I think you have to look at the total experience from beginning to end. In that case, Hulk should win, no question.

From James Koehl on February 22, 2012 at 7:23 PM
Melanie, a "rollback" on TTD is a rare occurance, only a few times a year and then only if the wind and temperature is just right. It's a dream that most serious "Ride Warriors" have. And yes, (although to us we find it rather condescending), TTD is a one-trick pony, but that pony gives one heck of a ride! Unless you have experienced it, it is hard to imagine what it is like to go from zero to 120 mph in 4 seconds. I enjoyed Hulk very much, but it didn't leave me shaking with excitement like TTD does- every single time I ride it.
From James Rao on February 22, 2012 at 8:03 PM
Hey, I know I sounded like I was taking the high-ground, but don't get me wrong, I voted for Hulk too. However, my decision was based upon the fact that I am completely biased and will almost always choose theme parks over thrill parks - even if deep down inside I believe that TTD's first few seconds is about the greatest thing since the invention of the Hydraulic Launch. But, heck, at least I am willing to admit the truth! =)
From Brad Schuster on February 22, 2012 at 8:24 PM
whats going on with this vote. Hulk is a cookie cutter coaster after that nice surprise of an uphill launch. Dont get me wrong it is a very good ride, but TTD blows it away with its 0-120 launch and 420 foot hieght. It may be short, but its nothing short of perfect for a pure adreneline junkie like me. Hulk doesnt even come close in terms of pure rush or fun factor.
From steve lee on February 22, 2012 at 8:32 PM
Mike, I believe Shannon is thinking of Viper, a Schwarzkopf shuttle loop that operated at SFOG in the late 90s. While the comparison to TTD is kinda pushing it, I can at least see where there's a launch element and such (of course Viper wasn't a full circuit like TTD and the speed is no comparison at all). Viper is currently SBNO at Kentucky Kingdom where it went by the name Greased Lightning. I rode it last in 2007 or so and it was still a lot of fun (but that's pretty much what you expect from Schwarzkopfs).

As for the vote at hand, it's really apples and oranges. Despite being in atrocious condition last time I rode it, I have nothing but love for Hulk. B&M really nailed it with Hulk, perfectly timing each element for maximum enjoyment, with enough gas saved for after the MCBR to keep it ongoing (as opposed to the very similar Led Zeppelin/Time Machine coaster that pounded riders into submission only to crap out at the end). Top Thrill Dragster is certainly an experience, but it's ultimately not something I can really get that into. It was built to break records, not deliver full ride experiences. It was enjoyable in that "wow, that just happened" kind of way, but there are far more enjoyable rides at Cedar Point worth praising over the one trick pony that is Top Thrill Dragster.

From David Brown on February 23, 2012 at 1:40 AM
There's an interesting split in the comments going on here. There's the argument that TTD should win because of the sheer visceral thrill of the launch and there's the counter argument that no matter if the physical thrills are less The Hulk should win because it's a more rounded attraction.
I understand adrenaline seekers and can see why their vote would always go to the attraction that gave them the weak knees and shaking-with-excitement moments time after time. But I suspect the clue here is in the title of the website - THEME Park Insider. The majority of the people on this site and therefore voting are I suspect theme park fans and not thrill park fans, (although there can be a lot of overlap), and as such their votes are awarded on a more complex basis taking the attraction as a whole.
In this instance I think the sum of Hulk's parts is scoring more highly for these people than TTD. And I'd have to agree with them...
From Mike Gallagher on February 23, 2012 at 8:27 AM
Steve,

I, too, rode Greezed (I believe that's the correct spelling :) Lightning in 2007 at KK, my only visit. I remember having a devil of a time finding the darn entrance. I wasn't aware it had previously been in Georgia.

From Rob Pastor on February 23, 2012 at 8:56 AM
Mike: That's really a tough to find entrance. From Georgia to Kentucky. Just kidding. I know what you meant....I agree with the pollsters concerning the lack of appreciation on this site for coasters in the northeast & central USA. For the most part there are a multitude of coasters much better than the majority of coasters in Orlando. But, having been on many of those really great coasters, I still have great appreciation for the Hulk. Hulk always puts a bit of fear in me, which is an emotion I don't experience on many coasters. And Hulk stands out more than the coasters in the concrete coaster parks that sometimes lose their shock value because there's so darn many of them, which creates a they're all the same feeling after a while.But the drawback on the coasters is their concrete environment. Even a park that was once very beautiful & well themed, namely Cedar Point, has regressed to concrete & steel....And the comment on theme oriented rides getting stronger votes on this site is probably right on. I myself strongly prefer a well themed ride over the concrete jungle rides. Theming makes a world of difference. And part of the theming is the overall park theme and not only the ride theme. In theming's entirety, an atmosphere of wonder, imagination and fun are the end result. And that's why I strongly prefer the Disney, Universal & Busch Gardens Williamsburg parks & rides over anything else.
From Tim Odom on February 23, 2012 at 9:15 AM
I am somewhat confused why Cedar Point did so horribly this year. In past years, CP coasters pretty much ruled the brackets. This year, with TTD going down (and, in this matchup, it should have lost, it is just not better than Hulk), CP is eliminated. The rest of the tournament will be basically between California and Florida attractions, with a few other parks thrown in.
From James Rao on February 23, 2012 at 9:17 AM
I rode the Tidal Wave back at Marriott's Great America in the 70's... I believe it became a Greased Lightnin' at some park somewhere eventually.

Anyway, it was fun, but it was nothing like TTD. Not even close. 0 - 60 in like 6 seconds, I believe... so slow... =)

From Mark Fairleigh on February 23, 2012 at 9:23 AM
This vote is for my wife who absolutely loves the Hulk. I don't do big coasters...they're just too low-key....yeah, that's it, that's the ticket. ;)
From Giovanny Cruz on February 23, 2012 at 11:35 AM
I'm goona vote for hulk first I never been in the other roller coaster and second hulk is my favorite coaster ever
From Caroline Davis on February 23, 2012 at 1:15 PM
The amount of ridiculous looks I've got standing in the UK's closest comparison to TTD (Stealth), while I explain what a rollback is and then tell people it's my dream to be on one.

It does thin out the queue a little as well, if you say it loud enough.

From Mike Gallagher on February 23, 2012 at 1:42 PM
LOL, Caroline!
From Will Chilcote on February 23, 2012 at 2:25 PM
I agree with Dominick. TTD has one trick. Its a good one but, that's it. I was actually a little disappointed with TTD. After a long wait, I felt very let down after riding it especially after just getting off Millennium Force. Hulk is a great coaster that is very fun. Hulk wins hands down.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Previous article: 2012 Best Attraction Tournament: The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man vs. Revenge of the Mummy



Stories from a Theme Park Insider

Stories from a Theme Park Insider

What's it like to work in a theme park? Stories from a Theme Park Insider takes you inside the famous tunnels and backstage at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom for a look at how theme parks really work, sharing the funny moments and embarrassments that can happen when your job is someone else's vacation.
Order now: Kindle | iBooks | Paperback | Kindle (UK)